Best Schools for Merit Aid Based on GPA

My DD is a hard working student with a 4.0 UW core GPA, and a 4.4 weighted. She has taken a couple of APs, lots of honors, and is also in a professional certification program in which she will graduate with an Early Childhood Education certificate. Sadly, she is not a good test taker and her SAT score was bad. She is doing test prep classes now in hopes of raising her SAT enough to be accepted to maybe USF or UCF.

We have Florida prepaid. Unfortunately, if she doesn’t get into USF or UCF we may need to look at smaller private colleges, maybe some test optional schools, that offer good merit aid without scores. Any recommendations we can add to our list? In or out of state is fine.

What is your budget and her intended major?

We have prepaid so I’d have to see what that comes out to be if we have to take the money out to use in a non public. My guess is not much. To that add, maybe $15,000 per year cash. We also have a good amount of equity, but of course we would prefer to use as little of that as possible, as it’s part of our retirement plans. We will use what we need, but the less we tap into that the better.

Are we completely crazy thinking we can afford anything that doesn’t take Florida prepaid? Our daughter has always been such a great honors student I just never imagined she wouldn’t be able to get into any of the state schools because of a test. She has serious test anxiety now due to all of this. I hate that Florida doesn’t have a single public test optional university like other states. I know she could get into a bunch of test optional schools out of state, but I don’t think we can afford it without significant aid. My husband is a first responder and I work as a contractor doing bookkeeping. Like most people, we probably make too much for significant aid, but not enough to pay for most four year colleges.

She is interested in speech disorders, specifically, pediatric.

What is your budget and her intended major?

It sounds like your budget is in the 20k range. If South Carolina stays test optional, that may be a nearby state school that could work. A superlative or above comes with an in-state tuition. She would maybe have to take out the federal loan depending on the actual value of the prepaid.

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Thank you. We’ll look into that!

Yes. Our DD understands student loans will have to be part of the equation if she goes OOS. We can probably take some equity out and move a few things to make it something work, but the more aid we can get upfront the better. I’m definitely researching as many OOS options as I can that offer decent merit aid packages.

I know that you said that you will not qualify for financial aid. However, have you actually ran a Net Price Calculator at a meets need school? If not, I would run 1 or 2 at traditional test optional schools to see what they return. The problem with private schools is that getting to a 20k price point is going to be difficult because it requires a full tuition scholarship.

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Thanks! I’ll research that for sure. I know it’s likely a long shot but I’m just exploring all options. I’m looking for a list of the leading options and then we can decide from there how much we can realistically contribute between cash, loans, savings, and equity in our home. If it’s totally not feasible we won’t bother exploring those schools. I’m also looking at OOS public universities too, but I know financially it’s going to be tough unless we get significant aid. Like I said we will take equity out if we need to make something work, but I’m just wondering what some of our best options are so I can concentrate my research and our efforts at those schools.

California publics are Test optional but the UC’s are $65k per year. The CSU’s are $42k per year with no funding for non residents. There’s no aid for out-of-state residents. So, non-residents pay full fees at the UC’s and CSU’s. My concern for her is that her major is Speech Path.

In order to practice and become a pediatric speech pathologist/therapist, she needs to go to Grad school. Grad schools require strong GRE scores. Grad schools have very limited admission spots and are very competitive.

This major requires SO MANY TESTS as it covers so many disorders of speech. Caseloads with children involve articulation and phonological disorders, dyfluencies (stuttering), deafness, voice, traumatic brain injury-(accidents, drownings, abuse), autism (pragmatics/social skills) and language development. Just because she seeks to only work with children doesn’t mean she will avoid complicated medical histories or studies of the adult brain.

Pediatric disorders are based on the development of the brain, ear, mouth, vocal cords, cranial nerves, such that besides therapeutic methods, she would need to take coursework in physiology and neurology and be able to read statistical data in speech and language research. The degrees and certification to work as a pediatric speech therapist include speech production, language, and hearing development. Strong knowledge of the way the ear works, is crucial to working with articulation disorders in children who have had repeated otitis media.

This discipline requires tests so that the professors can gauge the student’s comprehension of the material. Also, if she’s going to be working in pediatrics, she’ll work with the parents, more so than the child. She has to be able to explain why and how the the ear is adversely impacting the “Johnny’s” speech patterns and explain how the child is performing with his speech and language development based on the tests that were administered.

How is she going to complete this major, in undergrad and graduate school, if she doesn’t take the tests? Plus, part of being a pediatric speech pathologist is administering the tests to see if a child qualifies for therapy.

She may want to take a gap year. I understand that you are searching for affordable options that don’t require high test scores, but maybe she needs to get some therapy to help her understand why her anxiety level is so high when she takes a test. If she takes a gap year she may be able to work with a local speech therapist (or volunteer to work with the local speech therapist) and find out what the profession really involves. Because of confidentiality issues, she may not be able to, so she would have to ask the local school district for what is involved in that. It is nothing like a certificate in child development.

I advise this because the occupation in speech and language therapy is loaded with test requirements:

She needs a GRE to get into grad schools.
She needs to take her national boards test.
She’ll need to take her state test to become a certified therapist in whatever state she hopes to practice.

(If she moves to another state, then depending on that state, they may require another state test. We had a beloved professor come to California from Illinois; she’d been practicing for 40 years. California required that she take the state test.)

Am I missing anything @thumper1?

Edited to add: The thing I forgot to add was that this profession has changed a lot since I started 40 years ago.
We are now involved in litigation much more so than in the past. If she pursues this major she needs to be able to deal with the anxiety of dealing with attorneys.

She has to prepare her cases well. Parents of young children are hurt that they don’t have a “normal child” and a lot of them choose to place blame on the system for whatever reason they believe.
I can’t think of a more anxiety-producing activity than to have to be sitting between, the attorneys for the school, and the attorneys for the parents.

I think @aunt_bea covered it all. I would suggest you look carefully on the American Speech Language Hearing Association website in the area for the public. There is a section there about the schooling it takes to become a speech pathologist.

You have a thread elsewhere bout how competitive the masters program is at florida. I need to tell you…these speech pathology masters programs are competitive at most places, and particularly the flagship programs (even though those aren’t sometimes the top state programs). Look for masters programs in less well travelled areas of the country…they are a teeny bit less competitive for admissions but not too much so.

I have been in round table discussions at a number of conferences…the number of seats in these programs is not increasing. This has been an issue for as many years as I can remember. The limited seats are attributed to not as many folks entering higher education as a career. While there is a nationwide shortage of speech paths, there is an even bigger shortage of masters recipients.

As far as tests go. Your kid will need to have a decent GRE to be considered for most programs but not all. Once the masters is completed, the national exam is highly recommended as it is what leads to the ASHA certificate of clinical competence and is the gold standard which most SLPs meet. She will need to pass this test…as well as the Praxis tests in any state she would like to work in the schools.

It’s a great career, but it’s not an easy one. My masters program required a 3.0 GPA at all times…actually so did my bachelors. In my masters, no C grades were allowed. In my bachelors, only two c grades were allowed. Many bachelors of communication programs now don’t accept students as incoming freshmen. They need to have attained a certain GPA to then apply.

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I completely forgot about the GPA requirement!

It’s not easy to maintain a high GPA in a really difficult major.

My scholarship required that I maintain a 3.5 GPA. With all of those pesky medical courses, that we had to take as undergrad and graduate students, most of my friends and I were lucky to get a 3.0. No C’s were allowed in grad school. You exited the program.

Thank you for your responses. I will make sure to discuss all of this with her. Of course she understands she will take many tests in college. There was no expectation otherwise. She may very well decide on something else. For now it’s what she seems to be interested in, and what she is researching. She will definitely need to speak with counselors, other students, shadow our friend who is a speech pathologist, and maybe even take a few classes to see if it’s really for her. I know it’s a process making sure this is the right fit. For now I’m trying to provide her information, counsel, and support finding a program she can attend and we can afford. Thanks again for all this great information. It’s very helpful.

Those of you who are SLPs, if you had to choose a career again, would you become an SLP? I’m reading so many blogs of SLPs that’s love their patients, but are leaving the field. It seems job satisfaction is low. Many say the hours are long and difficult in their personal lives. They say pay increases are almost nonexistent, and that they spend more time on paperwork than with their patients. This is all making me want to steer my daughter away from this major, but then again I know she needs to also make her own choice. What would you recommend to a student trying to make this decision?

Honestly? No. But there’s a caveat. I think the location has a lot to do with job satisfaction. I’m in California and almost every meeting has people with litigation in mind.

The field has changed a lot since I was first educated in the early 80s. At that time, parents were really appreciative of the work that we were doing with their children. They loved the success of their children. They loved that we were able to exit out their children after successful therapy.

With that in mind, I remember that my schedule was really hard. I had 90 children on my caseload, when I entered my first school, because California doesn’t place a maximum on the number of students that each therapist can serve in a school. I worked 14 hour days and at least one weekend day per week. It wreaks havoc with a family.

I was a wife and a young mother such that a school schedule was supposedly better for me and my family. I had had lots of clinical experience in hospitals prior to working a school schedule.

When I worked the hospitals, my major hazard was having to dress very professionally and risk blood, bile, or urine on my lab coat.

When I worked in the schools, I was punched, kicked, bitten, had my glasses broken by students with a diagnosis that is very prevalent now. I’ve been yelled at, screamed at, threatened by parents and attorneys; this, despite the fact that their children always indicated that they felt comfortable, welcomed and safe in my therapy room with my activities, games, reinforcers, stickers, positivity, creativity, birthday and graduation-from-speech parties etc.

These litigious parents always acknowledged that “coming to speech” was one of their children’s “favorite things to do at school”.

My husband was very upset when I left the local district, in which we lived in, to work for other districts, outside of a normal commute time.
He didn’t understand that my district offered no support to the speech therapists with everyone busy trying to sue us.

The local “award-winning district” didn’t have a budget for strong attorneys so they complied with everything that the parents asked for, even if it adversely impacted other students. We had to take out our own malpractice insurance to save our homes.

I studied for four years as an undergrad and four years in my masters program which required a thesis and research. I also had an additional two years of study, in augmentative communication and bilingual education yet I was on a teacher salary pay scale.

The hospital salary was not that much better. My last job, working for an agency, I procured that job in less than an hour. All of my paperwork was uploaded to his computer. He checked my record, with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. If I ever want to return, he said he would take me back in a heartbeat. The job prospects are good; they’re begging for speech pathologists/therapists.

When I retired in early 2020, my salary was still three times less than what my husband earned, and 2 times less than what my daughter earns in computer engineering.

I actually loved what I did and how I was able to transform families, but the stress, the documentation/paperwork, the lack of sleep, the quality of life that I had as a therapist was not good. I averaged 3 hours of sleep a night and still cannot sleep all the way through the night. I developed hypertension, and I actually left and retired early for my health. I could afford to do that because my husband’s salary was so much better than mine. But I have colleagues, still in the field, who cant afford to retire in California.

This was more than you wanted to hear and maybe it’s just specific to my story, but my colleagues have reached out to me and have echoed the same feelings.

Your daughter needs to shadow someone and really get involved in asking about how many hours are spent on reports, meetings, documentation, etc. because she won’t just have cute little pediatric preschoolers, she will have a little bit of everything in this field. If that’s what she wants, then she’s going to have to front a lot of money to have a private practice involving state and local licensing, insurance billing, labor and office costs.

I absolutely loved being a speech language pathologist and worked in the public schools for 38 years before retiring from my full time job in a school district in 2011. Since that time, I have done 9 longterm leave positions in five different school districts…2-4 months in duration. Some were full time and some were part time.

In my career, I only did summer work a few summers. I did spend some summers taking post masters courses.

Your daughter needs to know that there is a huge amount of paperwork and meetings involved in this profession. Tons of data collection is needed. She will also be working with a very large variety of students and communication disorders.

I would do this again…but I will say, my last couple of full time years in my job, I felt like I was doing less work with students and more meetings, paperwork, professional development and the like…than working with the students which is what I truly loved.

Thank you both so very much for your responses and your honesty! I really appreciate you sharing your journeys and the ups and downs of your profession. I will definitely be sharing all of this with my daughter. I think it’s important for her to I have realistic understanding of this career, the good and the bad. I want her to make an informed decision. Again, thank you for taking the time to share your personal experiences. You have been very generous. I can’t tell you how appreciative I am.